Q&A with Anvil Media President, Kent Lewis

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Learn how a boutique digital agency generated a Fortune 50 prospect via a parody press release

We sat down with Kent Lewis, President & Founder of Anvil Media, a digital agency based in Portland, Oregon.

What is Anvil Media all about?

Anvil Media was founded in 2000, two years after Google officially launched as a search engine and the same year AdWords unveiled. As one of the oldest search engine marketing-focused digital agencies in the Pacific Northwest, and one of the most award-winning in the United States, Anvil prides itself on its ability to delight customers and consistently generate measurable results. While Anvil specializes in analytics, search engine optimization (SEO), paid media and organic social media strategy services, we provide a full-service approach to integrated marketing, including online PR and reputation management. More recently, we’ve expanded into Amazon, email and NFT marketing strategy.

Our measurable marketing service offering is built on a client-first philosophy. We’ve built a team of talented marketers, all trained and certified in the dark arts of digital marketing and are aligned to The Anvil Credo. Not only are we a growth-minded team, but we’re also a teaching organization who is deeply invested in the local community. Our executive team has nearly 70 years of collective marketing and management experience, which has led to a healthy and productive company culture.  More recently, the organization has focused on diversity and inclusion recruitment initiatives.

What are some examples of Anvil’s elevated experience? 

Perhaps the most interesting (and recent) examples of elevated experiences, is how we turned an April Fool’s press release into a large new business opportunity with a Fortune 50 company. April 1st of this year, we wrote and syndicated an annual April Fool’s release about NFT marketing. The response was so overwhelming, we decided to double-down on NFT marketing, including authoring syndicated articles, guest-hosting podcasts and being quoted in high profile publications on the topic of NFTs. A few weeks ago, a marketing contact at a global technology company reached out for help with an NFT project, having read our press release (and may not have realized it was a parody). We’re still in talks today.

What are Anvil’s core values and what do they mean for the agency? 

Our purpose, vision, mission, and core values are guiding principles that we live by every day. While our Purpose gets us up and into the “office” each day (Creating meaningful impact for our clients, community and ourselves through creative problem-solving, making and leveraging connections and education) our Core Values determine who we hire, clients and partners we work with and how to make key decisions. Our three Core Values are: Commitment, Passion and Growth-Mindedness and are integrated into our recruiting and sales processes.

  • Commitment: We’ve found our clients value commitment above all else. We at Anvil feel the same way about our team and our clients. We’ve created a culture that values employees first and foremost. This drives employees to build genuine relationships that are focused primarily on client success, which, in turn, fuels Anvil’s future growth.
  • Passion: Anvil brings passion to every facet of our work. We live for digital marketing, data, and generating results. Most importantly, we have a passion for delighting our clients. This translates into responsive customer service, deep industry insights, and/or becoming a customer of our clients.
  • Growth-Mindedness: At Anvil, our team has an unprecedented thirst for learning. We never stop learning, so we never stop growing and evolving. Our growth-minded nature allows us to continually improve our ability to delight and elevate clients.

What’s been your experience running a digital agency during COVID-19?

What are some of the biggest challenges you have faced? 

When COVID-19 hit, Anvil revenue was already down nearly 30 percent, so we were naturally very concerned and I took an immediate pay cut to protect my employees. Rather than focus externally on ramping up sales and marketing, we elected to focus internally on the team’s health and safety, refreshing our documents and processes and delighting and elevating our clients. The net result is that we were able to meaningfully increase profitability despite flat revenue year-over-year. More importantly, last year, our clients gave us the highest Net Promoter Scores (NPS) in over a decade. I’ve shared my leadership lessons in an article.

Anvil has a wide breadth of clientele, so how do you specialize? 

I’ve been told successful agencies focus on one discipline or one industry vertical. I’ve never subscribed to that logic, despite the intuitive nature of the mantra. I don’t like to say no to businesses based on their size or industry. Instead, we vet clients based on alignment with our Purpose, Vision, Mission and Core Values. This has worked well for us, as many of our clients are small to mid-cap companies, but they all share passion, commitment to their craft and desire to learn and grow. We do have a deeper expertise in ecommerce, healthcare, education and B2B technology, however.

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